Black-Tailed Skimmer

Orthetrum cancellatum

The scarcest breeder on the Gateshead list, being present (to my knowledge) only at Kibblesworth Brickworks Pools, usually at the north end of the main pool around the island.
Never seen in large numbers since their discovery in 2005 and some years not seen at all. Look for them in late-June and through July.

Black-tailed Skimmer (male)
dark brown/green head and thorax, powder blue abdomen with dark-tip
Only confusion species in Gateshead (in flight) is Broad-bodied Chaser.
But see them perched and note the abdomen is a lot thinner, there are no
dark basal wing patches and they do not have antehumeral stripes.   

They are fond of perching on the ground or rocks and are only found in
habitats which have a growth-free perimeter or muddy margins.
The males are extremely territorial, taking up to 50m of shoreline,
explaining why we hardly ever see more than two at Kibblesworth.   

Black-tailed Skimmer (female)
Bright yellow with two heavy black stripes down the back of the abdomen.
Immature males are similarly coloured but not seen at water after emergence.
Females feed along hedgerows or open ground, only return to water to breed.
 
Over-mature females might cause confusion as the abdomen turns blue/grey in older specimens.

Once at the breeding site, the female will be seized by the male on
territory and a brief copulation (usually on the ground or in cover,
occasionally in flight) and the female will oviposit alone,
with male close by ready to fight off any intruders.


 
As well as being territorial, males are very aggressive generally and will take large items of prey including butterflies, damsels or even other similarly sized dragonflies. As the name suggests, they have a low-level flight, practically skimming the water as they hunt.   

No comments:

Post a Comment